Posted on June 7, 2012 14:05
It is not often that Mexico goes up against teams who are able to play keep away. When it happened in the past, Mexico often had the propensity to blast away and regroup. When they did dispossess, they would then mount their own slow, deliberate attack. The Counter was rarely, if ever used, just as the phrase “Mexico scores against the run of play.”
It happened again last Sunday vs. Brazil. There was no question the Seleção was going to dominate possession, but this Mexico side has players that can mount a quick and lethal counter attack.
It has been hit or miss – with an emphasis on miss.
Mexico was able to quickly find an outlet to their attacking players, but then they had trouble linking up with each other. Occasionally passes were not on target, and then there was Juan, who is the fastest central defender I have seen in person. He closed down Mexico’s counter on the left, right, and center. Nevertheless, Mexico could have done better, much better, and it is something they definitely need to work on.
The counter attack has never really been a staple of the Mexican offense, at least as long as I have been watching them. Sure, there was the occasional speedster, like a Cabrito Arellano or Ramón Ramírez, but they were the exception, not the rule. Think of Mexico’s forwards over the past 15 years – Jared Borgetti, Kikín Fonseca, Omar Bravo, Cuauhtémoc Blanco, Ricardo Peláez, Luis Hernández… they didn’t exactly pose the threat of running past anyone – not even the goal keeper.
Over the past few years, that has changed significantly. Mexico’s offense has added an element of speed that, frankly, they have never had before. Chepo de la Torre has steadily started the quartet of Andrés Guardado, Pablo Barrera, Giovani Dos Santos, and Javier Hernández, all of whom possess some high quality jets. Since the four of them have been playing together, they have had a few opportunities to fire up a few counters– it’s how they got back into the Gold final vs the US. But even at the Rose Bowl, they squandered many more opportunities than they finished. Needless to say, adding a decent counter attacking option would complement an already loaded offense very nicely. They just need the reps to make it work.
Now that Mexico will be launching their World Cup qualifying campaign, they’ll have their chances to refine their counter attack, especially on the road. It was the counter at Saprissa, after all, that effectively fast-tracked Mexico’s qualification for South Africa.
So when the time comes, and it will come, when Mexico is forced to cede possession, they will have options.